Fall and winter are a great time to take advantage of some indoor herbal gardening.
–Here are some tips brought to you by the LGC headquarters-
Doing a quick search engine query will bring up countless idea’s, and projects based around indoor gardening. We’ve learned that it is best to start out small and build your way up.
- Measure your space and decide on containers
- Pick a couple types of herbs to grow
- Research each type and decide on soil/ lighting condition’s
Your searches online will bring you a mass of options when it comes to containers, all ranging in size, shape, color, and materials. We’ve found it is much more cost effective to use things like egg cartons for seed starts and moving up to a plastic bottle of some sort. This not only saves you money, it also helps reuse waste from the home. You will not always be successful with your seed starts so reducing costs can alleviate some frustrations if this occurs. Once you get your young sprouts established, you can always upgrade your container for something nicer.
- Lemon Grass
Lemongrass can be started a very simple way.When buying a stalk at your local market, look for plenty of stem and make sure the base is intact. Trim the top and place the stalk in a couple inches of water. The stalk will produce roots and dozens of new shoots.
These are one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors, as they do not require much light and are prolific. Chives are easiest to start from an already-established plant, but they are also simple to start from seed. Just pull up a bunch from the established plant (including the roots), place it in a small pot half-full of potting soil, then cover the roots up to the crowns with more potting soil. Cut about one-third of growth off the top to stimulate new growth. Continue to trim the tops on a regular basis.
Both spearmint and peppermint grow like weeds. They’re both hearty and very invasive, meaning that they can quickly choke out other herbs. . Start your peppermint plant with seeds—not root or leaf cuttings—in a small pot full of potting soil. Peppermint will thrive in shade, but make sure it’s in a spot where it gets at least a little bit of light each day. Later on you can clone your mint’s by simply placing a fresh cut shoot in water for a week or two. once roots begin to establish you can then move the clones to soil.
Parsley is one of the most commonly used herbs and is very easy to grow, though the seeds can be difficult to germinate and may take up to two weeks to see results. Parsley doesn’t require much light or maintenance once you get it started. Keep in mind, that this plant is a slow grower, so initial clippings will not harvest much.
Coriander is the seed of the cilantro herb. This particular version of coriander is easier to grow than regular coriander, as it’s hearty and very reliable. This particular variety thrives in moist soil so over watering is the exception here.
The Greek variety of oregano is easiest to grow; however all oregano requires six to eight hours of sunlight per day. A well-lit window,particularly one with southwestern sun exposure—is best.
This is another herb that requires six to eight hours of sunlight per day, and it may even need supplemental light. Plan Carefully with this one.
This herb does not like heavy watering. It prefers to remain on the dry side and does not need rich soil. Several varieties are available; some are bush-like and some are more of a creeping plant. Choose an upright variety like Tuscan Blue or Blue Spire. These will remain more compact, making them a better choice for indoor growing.
This is one of my favorites to use when cooking, and we grow numerous varieties. The best varieties for indoor growth are the Spicy Globe or African Blue. The African blue won’t have the wide, bright-green leaves you may be used to seeing in grocery stores; it’s similar to Thai basil with its narrower leaves and bluish-purple stalks. Compact varieties are available from most distributors.
Easy to grow and enjoys cooler temps. Home grown cilantro packs a really nice punch of flavor and aroma. Start from seed, and trim often. Cilantro is a nice addition to any tex-mex recipe or fall soups.
Indoor dill is likely to grow tall, you may need to stake if your dill reaches 10 inches tall or starts to droop. Many gardeners plant a dwarf dill like “Fern Leaf” when planting indoors, which stops growing at about 18 inches, compared to 24 or 36 inches like standard varieties. Be mindful of this when planning your location inside the house.
By growing sage plant on your windowsill, you can enjoy this savory herb year-round. Its strong aroma and flavor make it one of your favorites. Wait a year before harvesting sage to allow your plant to get established. After the first year, snip fresh leaves as needed, and watch for over watering. Prune it back after flowering to keep it from getting too leggy. You can cut mature plants back by half in spring or early summer- you won’t hurt the plant.
A Few Helpful Growing Tips
When buying herbs for indoor growth, it’s best to purchase plants that haven’t already been growing outside. The shock of bringing them indoors can cause trauma and affect growth and production. Remember that winter is a natural resting phase for plants, so it’s unrealistic to expect abundant growth. Try minimal watering and let them do their thing. Clipping them regularly will promote further growth.
A common mistake is to plant all herbs in one container. This inhibits growth and in the case of an invasive herb, you’ll likely witness an herbal blitzkrieg in your container. Plant each herb in its own container. Containers should have ample drainage holes in the bottom and since herbs can be susceptible to fungus, allow them to breathe by adding rocks or perlite to the bottom of the container.
Always use a high-quality organic potting soil that contains vermiculite or perlite for adequate drainage. Avoid using soil from the outside, as it contains organisms that may not work well indoors. Rosemary, thyme, and basil prefer soil with more lime, so adding a spoonful of crushed eggshells to the soil is beneficial. Though herbs are hearty, they do like to be fed once in a while. When growing in limited pot space, herbs are grown for their leaves not for their flowers. Fertilizer you give them should promote leaf growth, not blooms. One of the easiest ways to feed your herbs is to add one tablespoon of fish emulsion to a gallon of water and use this every time you water.
Water the herbs at the base, where the stem meets the soil—don’t water the leaves. Water once and let the water drain completely . How often your herbs need to be watered is a matter of watching and learning to read each individual plant. A good rule of thumb is to let the soil dry between waterings. If you see leaves turning yellow, cut back on how frequently you hydrate them.
If your herbs require supplemental light, clamp-on reflector lights with fluorescent bulbs work best. Clamp the lights to the pot- four to six inches away from the plant. If you see brown spots on the plant, this is a sign of burning. The light is either too close or has been on for too long. Try using a timer on your light. They are fairly inexpensive, and can be found at most local hardware stores.
With winter approaching, there’s no need to go without fresh ingredients. Warm stews, soups, and herb’d crusted breads will surely get your family feeling great!